PAWTUCKET – Lars Anderson made four trips to the plate Sunday, every one of them transpiring in a Pawtucket Red Sox uniform.
For someone who spent Saturday night bidding farewell to teammates and contemplating a future in Oakland, Anderson spent most of Sunday morning trying to make sense of the unstable trade winds that had rocked his universe. One minute the first baseman was standing in the batter’s box in McCoy Stadium. Then came word that Anderson was involved in a trade that would have sent starting pitcher Rich Harden to Boston.
Cold water was poured over the proposal shortly after midnight, leaving Anderson still very much a member of the Red Sox organization. Aware of the situation, PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler made sure to check on Anderson’s status before writing the first baseman’s name in the lineup for Sunday’s contest.
It goes without saying that Saturday was an emotionally draining day for Anderson.
“I probably got a little ahead of myself as far as the daydreaming goes,” said Anderson prior to going 0-for-3 with a walk in Pawtucket’s 7-2 loss to Louisville. “I thought it was close. It’s funny saying bye to some of these guys, just thinking you’re going to have a different reality when you wake up. It’s a lot to process.
“My understanding is that Harden needed to pass a physical or something of that nature. I don't know what happened," Anderson continued. “He’s had a lot of physical stuff in the past, so that was something I always thought could throw the deal off.”
Anderson spent a good portion of Saturday hanging out with his father George and PawSox outfielder Ryan Kalish. On Sunday Pawtucket hitting coach Chili Davis dropped by Anderson’s locker, no doubt offering the player words of encouragement and reassurance.
“He’s my best friend and that situation could have been really good for him,” said Kalish. “He’s a great player and is going to get an opportunity somewhere, but [with Pawtucket] he gets a chance to play every day and just continue to develop. He’s too good to be held down.”
Any chance Anderson had of making an impact in Boston went out the window last December when the team acquired Adrian Gonzalez, something that the 23-year-old is readily aware of.
“Obviously there’s more of an opportunity to be in the big leagues there than [in Boston], looking at my position,” Anderson said of Oakland. “It was an exciting personal prospect for my own career, but like I said, it’s all fantasy.”
Even more appealing, though, was the opportunity to play in his backyard. Anderson was born in Oakland and spent most of his youth in Sacramento, where the Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate is based. Had the trade gone through, Anderson would have been reunited with Oakland hitting coach Gerald Perry, who was Pawtucket's hitting instructor when Anderson reached Class AAA last season.
“It was just pretty surreal. I grew up going to those games when I was a little kid,” said Anderson, mentioning that he never made contact with a member of Oakland’s camp. “I didn’t know if I was going to be in Triple-A or the big leagues, but I’ve lived in Sacramento the last 16 or 18 years, which is where the Triple-A field is. I lived in Oakland before that. One way or the other, it was going to be a hometown affair. That was exciting. It might have been overwhelming, but it was going to be exciting, too. It was exciting to think about.”
Said Kalish, “It’s good to have him back, but it's like he never really left. At the same I want what’s best for him in his career. This was the first time that someone I was close to was going to get traded. When he messaged me that it wasn’t going through, I didn’t know how to feel.”
Beyeler was standing in the third base coach’s box when PawSox trainer Jon Jochim relayed word that the manager needed to find a pinch hitter for Anderson, the chain-of-events transpiring during the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Sunday saw Pawtucket’s bench on red alert as following the game several players asked the media if anything went down once 4 p.m. Eastern time deadline came and went.
“This time of year, when things like that happen, guys aren’t stupid,” Beyeler said. “You just never know with these types of deals.”